May 28, 2014
While at first glance these books may not seem that similar, there are a few things that made us decide to group them together. Number one is their beautiful, vibrant, and eye-catching covers which will probably make this one of our most colourful review blog entries for years to come. Secondly, all three of them mix poetry with visual diagrams in ways that are surprisingly funny, poignant, and meaningful. Finally, they are all incredibly unique — from each other as well as from poetry as a whole — and they all deserve to be read.
Couch House Books
Jon Paul Fiorentino's Needs Improvement "exceeds expectations." From "alyrical vilanelles" to a story told through report cards, Fiorentino's formal and thematic ideas are original, fresh, and funny. His deconstruction of accepted methods of media inspire us to reconstruct our own meaning in the gaps — the gaps in language, the gaps in communication, and the gaps in meaning — the absences of experience that we all share. Needs Improvement frees us from our own introspection by inviting us to join together in "the collective of the lonely."
House of Anansi Press
In The Polymers, Adam Dickinson mixes poetry with science in a way that makes us wonder why the two aren't combined more often. Dickinson's use of a clear plastic page at the beginning of the collection establishes the setting for his later observations on the plasticity of human behaviour in today's culture. Through his exploration of polymers as "the basis of both synthetic and natural plastics," Dickinson's writing is able to simultaneously represent both the real and the fictive, the literal and the metaphorical, and the scientific and the artistic. The Polymers is complicated, but not in the way you might expect. It is challenging, but it is playful, a sort of contradiction of itself and, much like plastic, the writing is both natural and constructed.
Coach House Books
MxT stands for "Memory x Time," which is poet Sina Queyras' formula for measuring grief. In MxT, Queyras appropriates and deconstructs diagrams in a way that is both appealing and terrifying. We lose all sense of navigation through her rhythmic, nauseating, and beautifully honest repetition of loss. Her memories, turned "over and over like an old coin," both playful and serious, are "mapless." Queyras as theoretically addresses the impossibility of conveying grief with language and then goes on to challenge her own claim through the powerful emotion of her writing.